In the wake of the cross-border Nato attack in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in Salala, the whole country was up in arms against the aggression of the allied forces. From the political parties to lawyers associations, from banned militant outfits to student organisations, from the head of the armed forces to the aunties in drawing room; everyone thought it fitting to lambast the US — especially since most people cannot really distinguish between the US and Nato — for attacking Pakistan’s sovereignty, its land and its people. As if protest of the people living in the country was not enough, Altaf Bhai decided to join in the condemnation of NATO forces all the way from London.
A few weeks later, 15 Frontier Constabulary personnel who were captured in Tank on December 23rd were taken to Waziristan by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and killed after a dozen days. Unlike the deaths in Salala, no one is mourning the loss of lives of these 15 men because we do not cry at the atrocities committed by our so called strategic assets – the TTP – who not only claim these deaths with impunity, they justify it as an act of revenge. We only lament, or maybe we are pushed into lamenting for those who are killed by foreigners – be it individuals (victims of Raymond Davis) or troops (victims of Salala bombings in November) to get maximum political and material leverage out of it. It’s a slur on national integrity if soldiers die in cross border skirmishes, but if the strategic assets – or more likely the strategic liabilities – murder a group of soldiers in cold blood, it only merits a brief press release with no mention of the names of those who died.
The victims of Waziristan will also not be grieved because there were no officers and gentlemen amongst them. They were ordinary soldiers; and we do not mourn the deaths of mere soldiers who die in the line of duty by their compatriots.
Did any political party called for protest against this act of barbarism? No.
Have we seen the footage of flag covered coffins set in manicured gardens for all to pay respect to the dead on the tv to fan the public anger? No.
Has there been funeral prayers for the victims of Waziristan where who‘s who of the country offered condolences and vowed to avenge their deaths? No.
Did lawyers boycott their activities? No, it was business as usual for them.
Were distressed family members, wailing mothers and fathers with slumped shoulders interviewed to fan public outrage against this barbaric act? No.
Did anyone ask the TTP for qisas for the families of the 15 victims? No.
Were there any TV anchors frothing at the mouth, dishing out sermons dripping with moral outrage calling people to stand up against the effrontery of TTP? No, the debate on TV was about memogate and contempt of court notices dished out to PPP leadership. We sure have our priorities right.
Why bother, when there is no financial compensation to be had, where no effigy-burning rallies can be organized for political gains, and no other nation is to be blamed. It is known that some animals are more equal than others in the animal farm called Pakistan, but what is now being learned is that some animals are more equal in death as well.
First published in The Express Tribune, this is the unedited version.